NORTH NEWTON, KAN. The Bethel College community celebrated the dedication of Kaufman House as the new home for the Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (KIPCOR) Saturday, Oct. 4 during the college’s Fall Festival. The house, which former Bethel College President Ed. G. Kaufman deeded to the college in 1964, recently underwent a year-long renovation made possible by an estate gift from Edna Ramseyer Kaufman. The morning dedication began with opening remarks by Gary Flory, director of KIPCOR. He introduced the architect Chip Parker, construction manager Roger Penner, renovation volunteers, KIPCOR staff and steering committee, and Kaufman family members.
Kirsten Zerger, McPherson, senior training associate for KIPCOR, spoke on the 70-year history of Kaufman House where her grandparents lived. She is a granddaughter of Ed. G. Kaufman and his first wife, Hazel.
"This house is a place of robust discussion and hard work," Zerger said, "fueled by an unquenchable curiosity about every dimension of life and absolute confidence in the ultimate grace of the divine." She spoke on the spirit of the house, including thoughts about her grandparents and Edna Ramseyer Kaufman, who married Ed. G. in 1965 but never lived in the house.
Zerger reflected on the fact that Bethel College graduating seniors and world dignitaries visited Ed. G. and Hazel Kaufman as they opened their home to many people. She acknowledged Edna Ramseyer Kaufman’s gift of bringing "unusual combinations of people together around good food and fellowship" and Edna’s understanding about the fundamental role a shared meal could play in successful peacebuilding.
"So what is the spirit of this place? It is the spirit of welcome, fellowship, and hard work, seeking all truths, hearing and affirming many voices. (It is) truly a good home for the Kansas Peace Institute and the Community Mediation Center," Zerger said.
Also speaking were Joel Goering, senior from Silver Spring, Md., who explained KIPCOR’s connection to the Bethel College community, and Bethel College President E. LaVerne Epp, who made closing remarks.
An open house followed. The house will serve KIPCOR and the entire Bethel College community as a center for training and discussion on peacemaking issues and conflict resolution.